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The Concept of Love

The Concept of Love

My husband and I stood in front of a dozen community leaders in Sungco, Bukidnon, in December 2022, surrounded by the lush landscapes and the wisdom of the elders. We’ve wedded ourselves at least 4 times in the last decade that we’ve known each other and it’s quite an experience to have the need to renew, bind, commit and have an evolving understanding of what love is and could be.

Among the weddings we had was one was with just the two of us, two witnesses and our Art Mother who have guided the ceremony; 3 times in the island of Oahu in the Kingdom of Hawaii were we were blessed by a Kupuna and several other spiritual leaders close to our hearts, and the most recent, a Talaandig tribal wedding which was a way for us to connect and bring families together even when blood quantum wasn’t there. There was a rooted relationship in music and art that went beyond our love for the community.

Our journey during this wedding was an offering to “Magbabaya” (what they call the gods in Talaandig) to guide us in the next direction for our family. After having a child, surviving a pandemic and many transitions in our lives as a family, we felt the need to renew and “re-balance” our energy as individuals, as a couple and part of different communities we committed ourselves to. The ceremony transcended the conventional norms of love and marriage. It was community and connectedness that has blessed us to figure out our next steps and has now blessed us with a new life in my womb as we embark on a journey with our second child. In a country where the majority practices Christianity, Westernized wedding ceremonies have become the norm, shaping the perception of what a wedding should be. The diaspora has only intensified this, leading to a significant commercialization of weddings where the focus often shifts from the union of two individuals to the status symbol of the event.

The concept of love that I know and understand is informed just by the relationships I’ve been exposed to within my family and my partner’s family, but also from the different communities that I’ve been exposed to. I am slowly learning that LOVE as what we know has a lot of western constructs that have made it so commercial in so many ways. There is commitment, loyalty, caring for family and your partner and there is the concept of “kuleana” or in Kalinga they call “ayuwan.” A sense of responsibility beyond what we all think love is. It’s caring and feeling responsible for your commitment, not just to your partner, to the families involved, to the land where you are and to your children whose lives you brought to the earth. 

Love is a type of energy shared and received in different shapes, sizes and dimensions. It transcends the linear thinking that it has to be a certain way. It grows and it evolves depending on situations, circumstances and environment. Love is universal and is within all of us that can be shared amongst partners, family and friends. As I grow older and as I add more dimension in my life, including having children, love has become deeper than I thought it has. The type of love has been evolving and it changes through time.

As I reflect on these wedding experiences, I recognize the value of the many reasons why people are bound together. Honoring the reason for being together is the foundation of love. A reminder that there is a purpose for the union, not just for procreation and your immediate family, but for the communities that we committed to throughout our relationship. A commitment to our children, that we are all going to work together towards building a less chaotic life and push towards homecoming to re-indigenize and recollect the forgotten Indigenous wisdom that has been inside us all this time.

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